2017-09-07 / Business News

Kathleen E. Fleming, R.N. and Carol R. Peterson, R.N.

Visiting Angels of SW Florida

Kathleen E. Fleming, R.N. and Carol R. Peterson, R.N. Kathleen E. Fleming, R.N. and Carol R. Peterson, R.N. With our help, seniors live independently in their own homes


NAME: Kathleen E. Fleming, R.N.

TITLE: Executive director/owner: Visiting Angels

NATURE OF THE BUSINESS: Homecare – non medical


EDUCATION AND BACKGROUND: Youngstown State University – AAS Nursing B.S. in Human Resource Management Certified Senior Advisor 35 Years as a registered nurse with experience in CCU/Infusion/Geriatrics

HOMETOWN: Sharon, Pa.

NAME: Carol R. Peterson, R.N.

TITLE: Assistant administrator: Visiting Angels


EDUCATION AND BACKGROUND: 40+ years as a registered nurse: OR/ICU/CCU Graduate of St. Luke’s Hospital, Davenport, Iowa - Nursing

HOMETOWN: Moline, Ill.

What do you enjoy most about your jobs?

Not a day goes by that we do not feel more blessed than the day before. Our clients are such wonderful individuals with such incredible and fascinating histories. It brings such joy to be able to give back to them. They certainly have earned their right to grow old with respect and dignity and we are so lucky to be able to provide them with this opportunity.

Are there any new products or services that you will be promoting in the near future?

We are excited to be rolling out our Nurse Advocacy Program. So many of our clients live in Southwest Florida without family members nearby and are sometimes overwhelmed with managing their own care. We are putting together a staff of experienced nurses that will become their clinical liaisons. These clinicians will complete an initial assessment that includes medications, physicians and medical history. Our nurses will then be available to accompany our clients to physician appointments, procedures and most importantly, will immediately be available in the event of a medical emergency to communicate with the health care providers on their behalf. We feel this program will also provide a comfort level to family members who will now have a professional to communicate on their loved one’s behalf and also keep them informed.

What is your process for screening and selecting new caregivers?

Selecting caregivers is one of the most critical components of our business and we feel our process is a key factor in our success. Our caregivers are the people that go into your loved one’s home and care for them and it is crucial that they are screened and selected to the best of our ability. We begin our hiring process with a telephone interview to determine if there is a language barrier. Our clients do not need the added frustration of not being able to communicate effectively with their caregivers. We then look at their experience and training as we require a minimum of one year of experience prior to hiring them. The next step is the state-required background screening as well as an additional screening that we outsource to a national company (ClearStar) that is much more comprehensive. Although the state does not require this additional screening, we really feel that this added screening really sets us apart from the majority of home care agencies in the area. Although these practices are critical steps in the hiring process, the final and most important step is determining if the caregiver is the “right fit” to become a member of our team. Character, compassion and passion are not only qualities that we look for but are essential before we allow them to work as an “Angel.” Unlike many of the agencies in this area, our caregivers are employees, not independent contractors. The caregivers have Workers Compensation and liability insurance coverage as well as payroll tax withholdings, training and performance evaluations. This eases a huge burden from our clients who may otherwise be responsible for these expenses if using an independent contractor.

How has technology positively impacted your business?

We have contracted with a company called ClearCare that offers a comprehensive system that we use to schedule and manage our caregivers. In addition, ClearCare offers a product called “The Family Room.” This provides family members with a secure access portal that allows them to always be in the know. They have access to schedules, the caregiver team, medications, invoices and daily details down to the tasks that were completed during each shift. In addition, they can add “to-do” items for the caregivers to complete over and above the initially assigned tasks. This is invaluable to our families who are geographically not able to be hands on.

What are some of the changes you have seen in your industry in the past few years?

We have seen a proliferation of new providers from startup mom and pops to hospital-based organizations. This is a very positive trend and will most likely lead to improved accountability for outcomes. It is an exciting and definitely challenging time for all providers.

What has been your most difficult challenge in the past year?

There is no question that all of us have faced enormous challenges with the changes in the new labor laws and the elimination of the companionship exemption. With the overtime regulations it has become increasingly difficult to provide continuity and consistency of caregivers. So many of our clients suffer from some sort of impaired cognitive function or dementia and would definitely do much better with familiar caregivers. Unfortunately, overtime is not a luxury that most individuals can afford so it has become increasingly challenging to minimize the number of caregivers in order to meet our clients’ scheduling needs and yet conform to the new labor laws.

What are some of the major challenges you see for your industry in the next 10+ years?

Approximately 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, which equates to almost 4 million/year. It is estimated that only 55 percent have some retirement and 42 percent of those have less than $100K. This means that almost half of retirees will be living on Social Security alone. It is a fact that it is more cost-effective to remain in the home when individuals just need a little assistance; however, it will be a tremendous financial challenge to both retirees and their families with such limited resources. ¦

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